News in Brief

The power of priorities, postponing DCGS-A and opening data in D.C.

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Agency priority goals need more leadership, GAO finds

Agencies need to put more emphasis on policy implementation, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report -- and to agency modernization policy in particular.

The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, or GPRAMA, of 2010, established the role of agency priority goal leaders and placed the accountability of APGs on them and their deputies. In most cases these goal leaders hold senior positions in the agency and several were the head of their agency.

A GAO report released July 22 found that from the time agency priority goals were supposed to have been achieved, from February 2012 to the end of fiscal 2013, about 40 percent of those examined had a change in goal leader, while 30 percent had a change in the deputy position.

Most of the 46 goal leaders GAO interviewed had a formal deputy goal leader in place, but 11 did not.

“Without a designated deputy goal leader, agencies lack a formally designated official to fill a key role in goal implementation,” the report said.

GPRAMA also required GAO to make reports of progress of the goals. GAO examined nearly half, 47 of 103 APGs for 2012 and 2013, and analyzed relevant documentation. For each of the 47 selected goals, GAO interviewed the goal leaders and other relevant officials.

While most goal leaders and all deputy goal leaders had performance plans, the report found that the plans did not fully reflect their APGs, and many did not make a reference to the APG. GAO said that plans that link more directly to APGs may help to keep goal leaders accountable for APG progress and outcomes.

GAO recommended that the Office of Management and Budget work closely with agencies to ensure they appoint deputy goal leaders and align their performance plans with their APGs.

Report: DCGS-A exercise postponed

The Army has postponed a major testing exercise planned for its Distributed Common Ground System because of software glitches, the Associated Press reported.

DCGS-A is an intelligence-sharing network used in combat that allows troops to access intelligence from multiple sources. The $5 billion program was approved for full deployment in December 2012, but has experienced considerable difficulties. Four months before that, Army Test and Evaluation Command deemed the system to be “effective with significant limitations, not suitable and not survivable.”

The Army says it is working to fix the problems in a new version to be completed next year, according to AP.

D.C. looks to boost open data

The District of Columbia is joining the movement toward open data, with Mayor Vincent Gray issuing an executive order creating a chief data officer position to coordinate implementation, compliance and expansion of a D.C. open data program and to help with the flow of information between departments and agencies.

The order also calls for government data to be proactively published and available online, and “when applicable,” in an open format online. Within 30 days, the D.C. chief technology officer must create a common web portal to serve as the source for district-wide and agency activities related to the Transparency and Open Data Directive. Agencies will also include this data in their annual open government report starting in October.

The directive also requires that each agency will work with the chief data officer and OCTO to make appropriate datasets available through the online D.C. Data Catalog.

If that wasn't enough, there will also be a test.

Within 120 days of the order, each deputy mayor and the city administrator, in collaboration with their cluster agencies and OCTO, will need to identify three new high-value datasets to publish to the Data Catalog.

To keep this initiative in check, Gray is convening an Open Government Advisory Group to evaluate the District’s progress and provide guidance on open data policy.

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